Employee cheating has always been a problem for some remote occupations, like site field professionals where a few sales employees have been found to work for two organizations at the same time, allocating enough sales to each organization to keep both paying. In the Internet age of remote work, this issue has become more challenging for business leaders and more widespread.
Executive coaches, CEOs, and business owners should be aware of a new website called Overemployed.com, that represents itself as a “community that helps professionals earn a double income and achieve financial freedom. Learn to work two remote jobs and invest wisely. No more layoffs.” What they are really doing is teaching employees how to get two-full time jobs, work part-time at each doing a minimally viable level of effort, and double their pay. Does this sound unethical to you?
By the way, cheating on the job is an old school problem that has resurfaced in the COVID-19 environment with the increasing use of work-from-home and remote technology. Years ago when I was in college, I was shocked to find out that one of my peers was actually working for our competitor at the same time he was working for our company; doing the minimal viable amount of work at both jobs, so as not to lose his job and double his pay. This was pre-Internet, required no technology, but rather employers who were blind on how to effectively manage, monitor, track, and incentivize the performance of their employees.
Working from home is new territory for many corporations and employees worldwide. Managers are learning how to manage productivity and employee performance in a new way and employees are learning how to maintain their effectiveness in a new work environment. However, some resourceful remote workers have found what some might call a hole in the accountability system. Some remote workers are now juggling two full-time jobs, without either of their employers’ knowledge. Why are employees doing this and how? How does this affect businesses and how can they respond to this trend increasingly occurring for remote employees?
The Overemployed community has been steadily growing amongst the working from home community. Aside from the Overemployed website, the community hosts its own discord channel where dually employed individuals can share their experiences and advice. Consider the following testimonials from Overemployed’s discord and similar virtual community boards.
Sam: “I used to work for 1 of the FAANGs. Now I am doing 2 fulltime with benefits jobs and 1 fulltime contract job and combined I am putting in less hours than my FAANG job. The key as most of you mentioned, is to only take and keep jobs that take at most 2-3 hours of your day. Otherwise, just drop the job and move on, as I did last year where I left a job after 2 weeks because I had to do about 6 hours a day which was too much for overemployed setup.”
*FAANGs is short for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google
Gale: “Yea, you cannot really get in the mindset of actually caring for the company you are with because you can start to feel that way. It was mentioned here a lot, but the best mindset it that each job is just a paycheck that is all… I know my companies would part with me if there was a financial issue and I would leave them if there was no paycheck coming in, so to me this is all a business transaction and I am just doing what I need for my own business”
Ryan: “I wish I had known about this place several months ago. Ended up getting a better job and just never quitting my first one. Went from a scrum master into a director of engineering role, keeping the old one mostly as a way to hedge my bets in case something went wrong. Let my previous job just keep going because I never really did much over there anyway--ended up having to leave though when they were bringing people back to the office, and I've been looking for ways to get back into dual jobs again ever since.”
Avery: “I currently have 10 fully remote engineering jobs. The bar is so low, oversight is non-existent, and everyone is so forgiving for under performance I can coast about 4-8 weeks before a given job fires me. Currently on a $1.5M run-rate for comp this year. And the interviewing process is so much faster today, companies are desperate, it takes me 2-3hrs of total effort to land a new job with thousands to chose from.”
Reasons that employees give for dual employment
Increased productivity without increased wages
Employees rationalize that the average employee’s productivity has increased, yet compensation has not increased at the same rate. “From 1979 to 2019, net productivity rose 72.2 percent, while the hourly pay of typical workers essentially stagnated—increasing only 17.2 percent over 40 years” (Economic Policy Institute, 2021). Employees are much more productive today than they were in 1979, but employer compensation does not reflect this. It is also worth noting that over half of employers are expecting to “reduce salary increases” and 45% are expecting to completely remove salary pay raises, for their employees in light of the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic (Miller, 2020). These employees who are taking on second full-time jobs feel that they have been shorted by the major corporations that they are employed for. In short, Isaac the creator of Overemployed summarizes the dually employed populations’ perspective when he states that the dually employed community was created “to give the man, aka Corporate America, the middle finger for always trying to screw the little people over.” He believes, that employees with two full-time jobs see this as an opportunity to increase their employment stability in a system they feel does not have their best interests in mind.
Employees rationalize that juggling two jobs is giving them the opportunity to double their income without having to get additional training or education. Overemployed, a website that advocates dual employment, states that dual employment can help remote workers “achieve financial freedom.” Having two forms of income can help employees save for emergencies, pay off student loans, pay off credit card debt, pay off mortgages, or develop financial investment habits. The average American household debt has been steadily increasing since 2016. In 2020 the average debt per household was $145,000 (Albright, 2020). Pair this with the loss of income faced by many during the COVID-19 pandemic and you have a community of employees who now wish for greater financial stability for themselves and their families.
“Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything for better or for worse.” - Simon Sinek
Decreased trust between employees and their employers
In the online literature, the underlying tone that appears to be in all of the reasons for dual employment, is that of restrained relationships with corporations. Many employees feel that their employers are unreliable in the face of layoffs and “office politics.”
The creator of the Overemployed community shares that in the midst of the pandemic, many corporations enacted corporate-wide layoffs. He also shares that in his own job he was “passed over for a promotion” and that “to add insult to injury” he wasn’t informed of his coworkers’ promotions. “Over half of the team got promoted while I was left with a 0% raise. I cried from feeling worthless and rejected” states Issac, the creator of Overemployed.
Employees with two remote full-time jobs are likely to see this as an opportunity to increase their resilience against layoffs and unforeseen circumstances like those described by Issac. They are also likely to see their employers as unreliable and potentially even corrupt. According to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, there is currently “widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world” including employers and businesses. Furthermore, the credibility of CEOs is facing “all-time lows in several countries…” Only 61% of individuals worldwide report trusting businesses as a whole (Edelman, 2021). This distrust of employers, CEOs, and corporations has encouraged employees to diversify their employment, decreasing their reliance on one sole corporation for employment.
“You don’t achieve greatness in life being surrounded by mediocre people with mediocre values. Choose your company wisely.” - Amy Chan
What cheaters are doing to manage dual employment
In reading through the advice provided by websites such as Reddit, Discord, and Overemployed.com, it’s truly a generational pushback against employers. Factors leading to the environment of this sea change include: